DRAGONS DOWN PERPIGNAN
The Dragons produced an impressive performance to beat European powerhouses Perpignan and move five points clear at the top of group four in the Amlin cup.
First half tries from man-of-the-match Lewis Evans and Adam Jones sent the Dragons into the interval 17 – 3 up.
Dragons controlled the second half and two smartly taken Jason Tovey drop goals assured a deserved victory for the home side despite a James Hook penalty and a last-gasp Adrien Plante try.
Boosted by a bonus point victory over Prato in round one, it was the Dragons who began the game the brighter, immediately testing the visitors’ defence.
After 13 minutes the Dragons breached the Perpignan defence as Lewis Evans exploited a hole in the visitors’ defence to power to the line. Evans was the recipient of a fine Martyn Thomas pass following a series of drives by the pack, the flanker met the ball at pace and evaded a last-ditch tackle to score with Tovey converting.
Moments later the Dragons were dealt a scare as nippy scrum-half Florian Cazenave sprinted toward the line only to be denied by fine cover defence from the Dragons.
The Dragons were reinvigorated after this shock and were soon back on the attack and further extended the lead through the boot of Jason Tovey.
With the bit between their teeth the home side looked to capitalise on their dominance, World Cup heroes Toby Faletau and Lloyd Williams both went close before veteran lock Adam Jones crashed over after a powerful drive by the returning Burns. Tovey converted to hand the Dragons an impressive 17-0 lead.
Perpignan however, weren’t prepared to lie-down and dominated proceedings in the tight, on 34 minutes a powerful scrum from the visitors won a penalty which James Hook duly slotted.
Despite further chances for the Dragons there were no further scores before the referee blew his whistle for the interval.
As the second half got under way the visitors’ dominance at the scrum continued as they were awarded another penalty after out muscling the home side, James hook stepped up to send a booming penalty over from 45 meters.
Buoyed by their promising start to the second half Perpignan piled more pressure on the Dragons and were awarded another penalty on 53 minutes, fortunately for the home side Hook was unable to convert.
Just as it looked as if Perpignan were coming into the game Jason Tovey knocked over a smart drop-goal after a promising attack into the Perpignan 22, minutes later Tovey repeated this feat to extend the Dragons’ lead to 26-6.
As the game entered the final quarter Perpignan’s Florian Cazenave was shown yellow for infringement at the ruck. Tovey was unable to convert the resulting penalty and sent another just wide four minutes later.
With nine minutes to go it was the Dragons turn to play with 14 men as flanker Gavin Thomas was sin binned. Perpignan exploited the man advantage as they finally breached the home side’s defence to score a consolation try through Adrien Plante, converted by Hook.
However, this didn’t dampen celebrations at Rodney Parade as fans and players alike were overjoyed with fine 23-13 win to further enhance their chances of a quarter final birth.
Newport Gwent Dragons (17) 23
Tries: Evans, Jones Cons: Tovey 2 Pens: Tovey Drop-goal: Tovey 2
Perpignan (3) 13
Tries: Plante Cons: Hook Pens: Hook 2
Newport Gwent Dragons: M Thomas, Chavhanga, Hughes, A Smith, Brew, Tovey, W Evans, N Williams, Burns, Way, A Jones, Sidoli, L Evans, G Thomas, Faletau.
Replacements: Buckley for Burns (73), Buck for Way (58), Morgan for Sidoli (73). Not Used: Price, Coombs, Bedford, Robling, S Jones.
Sin Bin: G. Thomas (72).
Perpignan: Porical, Plante, Mermoz, Hume, Candelon, Hook, Cazenave, Freshwater, Geli, Bourrust, Olibeau, Tchale-Watchou, Le Corvec, Perez, Tonita.
Replacements: Coetzee for Mermoz (73), Laharrague for Hume (53), Guirado for Geli (48), Mas for Bourrust (48), Mele for Le Corvec (66), Britz for Tonita (51). Not Used: Schuster, Guiry.
Sin Bin: Cazenave (64).
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)